Over the years, report after report has suggested that raising the skill level of the UK workforce is essential to continued prosperity of the country. In that context, plans to move apprenticeship delivery to an Employer Led system were attractive. The reforms would create more apprenticeships, deliver the skills that employers wanted and make savings for the public purse.

Four months in to the new regime there are no official performance stats and plenty of dissent in the sector over volumes and procurement processes. Whilst much of this has been covered at length, it might be worth stepping back from the procurement soap opera to look at actual impact of the apprenticeship levy.

Here at Pellcomp, about 150 of our 450 odd customers have their data hosted at our skills data centre, which means that we do have access to a significant sample of live apprentice data. In 2016-2017 this sample was about 10% of all UK apprentices. Running some aggregate, anonymous reports across all of our data gives us a decent sample to look for impacts of the introduction of the new apprenticeship funding rules.

The first thing that is crystal clear is that there has been a huge drop in apprenticeship starts since May [Fig 1]. Averaging starts over the 4 months before and 4 months after 1st May (to smooth the spike in April), and allowing for changes in sample sizes there is still a 64% drop in starts in year and a 43% drop on the same period last year.

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